How To Be A Better Rider
We all want to be better riders right? I know I do! So I thought it would be fun to give a few ideas on different things we can all do to improve our riding. Take a few minutes and think about your last ride on your horse. How did it go? Did your ride end on a good note? Or did you put your horse away feeling frustrated and discouraged? Here are a few things that I find to help me to make the most of my riding time with my horses.
Assess Your Strengths and Weaknesses
I mean give yourself a very honest evaluation. What are you good at? What could you do better? And what do you have no clue how to do? By doing an honest self-assessment of your current level of riding can really help you see what you can work on to being an even better rider. The key to this is to be honest with yourself about your abilities. Think about every aspect while you are on your horse. Where is your leg, and your heel? How about your hands, and your upper body posture?
Go through all gaits, walk trot and canter (or lope). Does your position change, or are you pulling on your horses mouth to maintain your balance? Concentrate on your position, and when you are done riding take a few minutes to write down what you did well and what needs work.
Then think about what you can do to improve.
Video Your Ride
Thinking how you ride and seeing how you really look when you ride are two totally different things.
If you have a cell phone, and a helper, you can video your ride. If you are fortunate enough to have a video camera, a tripod and a helper, you are truly lucky. Set up your camera, or your videographer, and film yourself riding your horse in both directions. Practice all three gaits, walk trot and canter. Aim to have at least 5 minutes of video for you to review. Then grab that pen and paper and write down what you are good at and what you need help with. If you can physically see what you look like when you ride, it will help you to become an even better rider.
And we all have areas that we can improve upon, even the best of the best. We can always get better!
Find Your Balance
How is your balance in the saddle? There is one way to find out, stand in your stirrups. Are you able to stand up straight in the stirrups and maintain that position? Or do you lean forward, or backward or even plop back down in the saddle?
If you can’t stand in your stirrups tall and straight, your butt clearing the saddle you need to work on your balance. It will help in your overall riding. And for you hunter/jumpers, can you stay in a two-point position around the arena at a walk, trot and canter? If not, this is a goal to strive toward.
And you can even work on your balance without being on a horse.
Find a step and stand on it. Allow your heels to drop slightly off the edge of the stair. Be sure to have a wall, or something to stabilize yourself. And see how long you can stay balanced on that stair. If you are like me, and teeter both forward and backward, you need to work on it. And you can, it’s easy! Several times a day for a few minutes work on your balance with the help of a step.
This is such an easy exercise and you will see results if you practice. And every time you are in the saddle, start with standing in your stirrups. Be sure to keep your heels down, and find your balance point. You can practice this at a standstill as well as a walk. Also consider adding some two-point position to your schooling to really increase your balance and core strength.
Take A Professional Lesson
If you can, sign up for a professional lesson. This way you can get an evaluation from a professional of your ability. It can be a humbling experience, especially if you feel your skills are pretty good. But you can learn a lot from having a professional watch how you ride and give you some pointers.
I also find it helpful to correct bad habits! It is helpful to have an experienced trainer watch you ride and give reminders like, keep your heel down, look up, and watch your hands. You get the feedback in real time, and you can continue to improve each week.
Yes, riding lessons can be expensive. However, if you learn something from each lesson that helps you to ride better, and have more confidence, the experience is priceless.
Perfect Practice Makes Perfect
Do you have a goal in mind when you go out to ride your horse? Or do you find yourself doing the same thing every time you ride? Do you ‘show up’ for your ride, or do you just ride?
Every time you ride your horse you can improve. Take the time to be present during your ride. Work on something new and try to perfect it. Even something as simple as getting your horse to stand still while you are mounting. This can be a huge task to accomplish. So instead of just jumping on as he starts to walk off with you, stop. Make him understand he needs to stand still until you ask him to move forward. This is something I see a lot when people go to get on their horse. They put their foot up to the stirrup, and before their foot leaves the ground, the horse is already walking off.
If this is what your horse does, correct the habit. Make him understand he needs to wait. This is a really bad habit that can be dangerous, and if your horse does it to you, he doesn’t respect you. In order for you to get the most out of your horse, he has to respect you. You are the boss, not him.
This is just one example of something you can work on with your horse. Pay attention to him when you are riding him. Every time you are riding him, you want him to be respectful and willing. If he isn’t you need to step back and evaluate the problem. Don’t do something half way, strive to do it right every time. Perfect practice makes perfect, so work toward perfection with your horse every time you ride.
Hopefully this gives you some different ideas of what you can do in order to be a better rider and enjoy the time you have with your horse.
About Lisa Goodwin
I am horse crazy and love DIY projects, and finding great deals on everything horse related. When I have a new idea, or find a great deal I love sharing this information with you.
You can find me over on my website, Budget Equestrian or catch up with me on my YouTube channel, The Budget Equestrian